Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is linked to child autism. ASD is a developmental disorder that can be noticed in two odd kinds of behaviors:
- Restricted and/or repetitive behavior
- Lack of communication and social interaction
- Social impairments
- Cognitive impairments
Since ASD is a spectrum disorder, its range runs from very mild to very severe and can happen to any ethnic, age, and socioeconomic groups. ASD usually appears during infancy and early childhood. It causes delays in many basic areas of development such as learning how to talk, interact and socialize with others, and play.
1 in 59 children is being diagnosed with ASD each year in the United States. Boys have a 3 to 4 times more chances of acquiring ASD than girls.
How To Find Out Your Child Has ASD
- Have low to zero social skills
- Avoids or resists physical contact with others
- Does not respond when they’re called by their name
- Does not demonstrate any interests
- Not interested in playing “pretend” games
- Avoids eye contact
- Repeat words and/or phrases over and over again
- Has difficulty understanding and caring about other people’s feelings
- Wants to be alone all the time
- Has obsessive interests
- Easily gets upset by sudden (even minor) changes
- Has delayed speech or doesn’t talk at all
- Gives unrelated answers when asked a question
Your child may also show these signs:
- Plays with their toys the same way every time
- Lines up perfectly their toys or other objects
- Has unusual interests and behaviors
- Has extreme anxiety and usual or unusual phobias
Other symptoms include:
- Very active
- Acts without thinking
- Occasional meltdowns
- Short attention span
- Unusual eating and sleeping habits
- Lack of fear or panics easily
- Unusual emotional reactions
- Very moody
How To Get Tested For Autism
There are two days to diagnose ASD:
#1 Developmental Screening
Developmental screening is a short test to identify if your child is learning the basic skills when they should. It could tell if there are any delays in their development. During the developmental screening, your physician would ask some questions to you or have a conversation with your child. Your doctor will examine how your child learns, speaks, behaves, and moves to identify child autism.
Children should be screened when they are:
- 9 months
- 18 months
- 24 to 30 months
It’s important for your doctor to screen your child for developmental delays so your doctor could monitor those who are at a higher risk for developmental problems.
#2 Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation
The second step is called the Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation. This test is more thorough and it includes looking at your child’s behavior and development. Your doctor could also perform a hearing and vision screening, genetic testing, and neurological testing.
Treatments for Autism
The question here now is, how is child autism treated? There are several methods you can try.
#1 Behavior and Communication Treatments
- Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
This treatment is often used in schools and medical clinics to help your child learn positive behaviors and get rid of the negative ones. ABA can be performed in 4 different ways:
Verbal Behavior Intervention (VBI) – focuses on your child’s language skills
Pivotal Response Training (PRT) – helps your child develop the motivation to learn and communicate.
Discrete Trial Training (DTT) – uses simple lessons and practices positive reinforcements
Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI) – this test is best if your child is under 5 years old.
- Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship-Based Approach (DIR)
Also called “Floortime”, this treatment involves you getting down on the floor with your child to play and do all sorts of fun activities that he or she likes. The goal of this test is to support their emotional and intellectual growth by helping him or her learn communication and emotional skills.
- Treatment and Education of Autistic and Related Communication-handicapped Children (TEACCH)
This type of treatment uses visual cards to help your child learn everyday skills such as dressing-up herself or himself, eating breakfast, even tying their own shoes. Information is broken down into small steps so that your child can learn it more easily.
- The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS)
This is another visual-based treatment but instead of using pictures, the doctor uses symbols. Moreover, your child will learn to ask questions and communicate through the use of special symbols.
#2 Sensory Integration Therapy
This treatment is specifically for children who are sensitive and easily get upset with certain sounds, bright lights, or the feeling of being touched by anyone.
#3 Occupational Therapy
This treatment helps your child learn basic life skills such as feeding and dressing on his own. Additionally, he or she will be taught the skills to help him live as independently as he can.
ASD has no cure and someone has yet to invent a medication to treat it. However, there are medications that can help your child with depression, insomnia, seizures, and trouble focusing.
Risperidone is the only drug that has been approved by the Food and Drugs Administration for children with ASD. Only children with child autism between the ages of five to sixteen are allowed to take this medication to help with irritability. Some doctors would recommend selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and anti-anxiety medications. However, the FDA hasn’t approved these medications for ASD.
It’s not as easy as a parent to handle a child who has been diagnosed with ASD. You need a great pediatrician to help you manage your child’s developmental growth. Fortunately for you, Pediatric Associates California has two amazing physicians, Dr. Garcia and Dr. Caceres who can help you take care of your precious little one.
To schedule an appointment, call them at:
Fresno Office: (559) 728-4133
Madera Office: (559) 673-6085